In a press release, State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced that the last of more than 10,000 sexual assault kits have been cleared from shelves and sent to labs for testing. This marks a major milestone for the Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative. Washington’s backlog of rape kits has effectively been eliminated.
According to the press release, clearing the backlog and testing the kits has helped solve at least 21 sexual assault cases. The testing has resulted in more than 2,100 “hits” in the national DNA database, known as CODIS. A hit occurs when a DNA sample matches an individual or another case in the database, which generally consists of offenders.
“Effectively ending our sexual assault kit backlog is a historic step toward justice — but our work on behalf of survivors is not done. Through this collective effort, we ensured that survivors’ voices are heard, reformed a broken system, improved testing times, and solved crimes. This success proves that government can solve big problems when we work together. We are committed to working with our partners in law enforcement to prevent any more backlogs so we have the best chance of solving these serious crimes.” ~WA Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
In short, all 10,134 backlogged sexual assault kits found in the office’s inventory have been tested or submitted to a private lab for testing. The Washington State Patrol is still reviewing approximately 1,000 tested kits, many of which will be added to CODIS. That process should be completed by the end of the year.
Ferguson has worked with local law enforcement to collect DNA samples from registered sex offenders, violent offenders and individuals convicted of serious felonies who failed to comply with a legal obligation to provide their DNA. As a result, more than 2,000 new profiles have been added to the national DNA database.
Forensic genetic genealogy grants from Ferguson’s office have helped solve multiple cold cases across the state. The Attorney General’s Office has also provided more than $177,000 in grants to 53 local law enforcement agencies across the state with funding for refrigeration units to store evidence from sexual assault investigations.
Statute of Limitations
Given Washington’s backlog, a potential defense to sex offense charges is that the filing violates the Statute of limitations (SOL).
The statute of limitations is a statute that sets the maximum amount of time after an incident that the plaintiff has to initiate legal proceedings. Simply put, the statute of limitations sets the time limit that the State has to criminally charge the defendant. In 2019, Washington changed its statute of limitation (SOL) laws for sex offenses. Here’s a quick summary of SOL’s for specific offenses.
Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.